It look's like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.
Missouri State University professor of religious studies Dr. John Strong and some MSU students have been in Israel since mid-June working on an archaeological dig…We caught up with them before they left Missouri. Dr. Strong says he and the students will work at Tel Gezer, an ancient administrative city that dates back to the Bronze Age.
“We’re going to be focusing on excavating an area around the city wall and city gates that date to the time of the Israelites. Where we’ll be excavating will be in areas that were occupied around the time of David, Solomon, and a century or so later than that. If we’re really successful, we might get down to a time prior to them.”
This excavation is being led by a seminary in Texas, which is providing financial backing. There’s also financial support from consortium member institutions across the U.S. Missouri State University is not one of those. This will be the fifth year that Dr. Strong has worked on this site…He started out as a volunteer and now is on staff as a supervisor. Among the MSU students who are in Israel this summer is Florice Pearce. She says she’s very excited to participate.
“I love history, just being able to bring to life the stories of just everyday people from 2000 years ago, the idea of touching something that hasn’t seen the light of day for 2000 years, to re-tell those minute stories, to see the differences between us and our ancestors and also the comparisons of what we have in common. I find it so fascinating. I can’t even sleep at night it makes me so excited to know I get to be a part of that,” says Florice Pearce.
“That is what is thrilling about archeology.”
Again, Dr. John Strong.
“It is touching history. Most of what you touch, to be quite honest, is broken, was trash 3000 years ago. People threw it away because they no longer wanted it but it’s exhilarating. I love seeing the contours of ancient foundations for walls of buildings show up and appear out of the ground.”
A few years ago, Dr. Strong worked on a home at the Tel Gezer site. The home had been destroyed by the Assyrians about 735 BCE, a fact that was evident in the condition of the home.
“You could see a broken pot here, a broken pot there. And you got a little bit of the sense of the final days of that home, when that family had to leave. Either they were captured by the Assyrians or they were fleeing. In my mind, my imagination, I could hear the patriarch of that family saying, ‘Leave it. Let’s go. We’ve got to go now.’ It was eerie and it still gives me shivers a little bit. Not every shovel stroke is such a visceral experience but at times, you get that picture of some very dramatic periods of the daily life of these ancient people.”
Dr. Strong says he brings back stories like this one, along with photos and videos from his time in Israel and uses those in the classes he teaches at Missouri State University. So, while most students can’t spend part of the summer in the dirt, they can at least get a sense of what it’s like to uncover history one shovel-full at a time.